Medical Minute 10-12: Tumor-Detecting App

By: Andrew McIntosh Email
By: Andrew McIntosh Email

We all have our favorite apps…
"Google Maps."
"Barcode Scanner."
"Facebook for iPhone."

You'll never be able to get this one, but you might want your doctor to have it.

"We consider this actually to be one of the world's smallest cancer diagnostic systems."

Developed by Doctor Cesar Castro and a team of researchers at Mass General Hospital, this mini nuclear magnetic resonance machine -- or NMR- tests tumor cells.

And is operated by Smartphone and tablet software that interprets the information. It's designed to be easy-to-use and accurate for clinicians.

"At the push of a button, essentially generate data without any wiggle room for subjectivity," said Cesar M. Castro, M.D., Physician Investigator Massachusetts General Hospital; Harvard Medical School.

If you spot a suspicious lump, Doctor Castro says you normally get a biopsy then wait three to seven days to find out if it's cancerous. With this, biopsy results only take 60 minutes!

"So, you can imagine that that could translate into just, not only reducing anxiety, but also increasing the efficiency."

The small system requires a small amount of tissue for testing, and so far, it can identify up to 12 cancer markers.

"This really kind of speaks to the power of looking at multiple cancer markers because there is no one universal cancer marker."

In one study, it correctly diagnosed 48 out of 50 suspicious masses as cancerous or non-cancerous.

In a subsequent test, it got 20 out of 20 right. Castro says the inexpensive invention could mean lower cancer testing costs for patients. A touch screen tumor analyzing tool that could change the way you think about what your phone and tablet can do.

For more information on other series produced by Ivanhoe Broadcast News contact John Cherry at (407) 691-1500,


BACKGROUND: According to the most recent statistics, an estimated 1,596,670 men and women will be diagnosed with cancer this year. About 571,950 of those diagnosed with cancer of all sites will die from it. Cancer screening may reduce cancer morbidity since treatment of cancer in early stages is often less aggressive than it is in more advanced stages. Most cancer screenings are non-invasive or minimally invasive and carry some risks including false-negative screening tests, which may delay diagnosis and treatment or false-positive tests, which may cause unnecessary anxiety and other procedures that are unnecessary.

TYPES OF TESTING: Currently, there are several methods that are used to identify cancerous cells. Specific types of tests include:
• Mammograms: This is a test that takes X-ray pictures of the breast.
• Computed Tomography: This is a diagnostic procedure that uses special X-ray equipment to take cross-sectional pictures of the body. Computers display these pictures as detailed images.
• Pap Test: This is also called a pap smear or cervical cytology. It examines cells by using a wooden scraper and brush to obtain cell samples.
• Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) Test: This test analyzes the amount of PSA in the blood by obtaining blood samples.

NEW TUMOR DETECTING APP: Usually, large samples of tissue are needed to analyze for cancer, but the new miniature nuclear magnetic resonance machine (NMR) can detect and screen cancer cells from a microscopic tissue sample. This new device can tell the difference between benign tumors and malignant growths with up to 100 percent accuracy based on testing that was done on patients with abnormal stomach tissue. More extensive clinical trials are in the works as this device has great potential for cancer detection and diagnosis. The system currently utilizes a miniaturized NMR probe for single-cell detection and uses a user-friendly iPhone interface.

Cesar M. Castro, MD
Physician Investigator
Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical Center
Boston, MA

You must be logged in to post comments.

Password (case sensitive):
Remember Me:
WCTV 1801 Halstead Blvd. Tallahassee, FL 32309
Copyright © 2002-2016 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 131615808 -
Gray Television, Inc.